November Blooms

Here in Austin, Texas, zone 8b, my late season garden is more about foliage and seed heads than petals and pistils. That’s especially true this year as we’re in a moderate to severe drought–we could use some rain! Even so, I’m fortunate to enjoy a few things in their last (?) blooms of the year.

This Mexican honeysuckle, Justicia spicigera, flowers-up as it feels like it: in spring, summer, autumn, and winter, this is a plant with a mind of its own! As long as we don’t have a hard freeze, this hardy shrub is truly a perennial bloomer.

The flowers appear, bloom for a time, followed by a rest period, and the cycle repeats. When bloom time is nigh–regardless of season–I eagerly await the cheerful orange blooms nestled in lush foliage. Especially now, with limited flowering plants, I’m glad that honeybees have these blooms available.

This particular Mexican honeysuckle bush is large and growing at one part of its base peeks out Purple heart, Tradescantia pallida. The tangled green, orange, and purple medley is nice.

In another spot of my garden, the Purple heart showcases charming three-petaled pink flowers. No bees here, but these dainties are popular with the bee and small butterfly crowd.

Rock rose, Pavonia lasiopetala, is past its blooming time, though three individual flowers remain in my garden, defying expectations,

…and providing for pollinators, like this Sleepy Orange, Abaeis nicippe, more hungry than sleepy, I think. It enjoyed a yummy nectar breakfast.

The small, year-old patch of Blue mistflower, Conoclinium coelestinum, growing at my garden’s edge has performed well this year. Without missing a beat in spread and bloom, it ignored heat from the Texas sun, aided by the human-made cement driveway and asphalt street which borders the plant. Blue mistflower is a tough and lovely groundcover.

This nymph Assasin bug, Zelus longipes, patiently waited for its meal. I imagine the hungry nymph moved in for the sip after I was out of the picture.

A consistently late-blooming perennial, Forsythia sage, Salvia madrensis, brings sunshine to a shady garden.

Each August, as the stalks of the lanky plant grow ever upwards, I promise myself that I’ll prune those tall things to half their size, ensuring that the blooms–when they come in late September–don’t weight down the stalks and branches. Some years I’m better about completing this chore, some years, I forget or succumb to August’s heat. Well, this year I didn’t prune by half, indolence as my main excuse, August’s heat as my backup excuse. Forsythia sage blooms beautifully, but the flower load is too much for floppy the stalks and they’re now lying near to the ground, draped dramatically on and over one another and other perennials. Nevertheless, the flowers are available for a nectar buffet, though photography is a bit trickier. Next year, I promise to keep this wayward thing in check.

Right. We’ll see about that!

There’s always something interesting in the garden and that’s something to cheer about. Today, we celebrate blooms with Carol at May Dreams Gardens. Pop on over and enjoy blooms from many lovely places.

35 thoughts on “November Blooms

    • August is a tough one. The thing is, it would only take me 10 minutes or so to prune it back and somehow, I can’t manage it! Also, the foliage of this plant is really attractive, kind of a blue-green. So, I tend to like it, let the heat beat me up, then regret the lankiness once the blooms appear. Sigh…:)


  1. Blue Mistflower is a wonderful native plant for both of us. 🙂 Mine, of course, is done for the season, but it’s great to have it blooming prolifically at the end of each growing season. I wish I could grow the Mexican honeysuckle: I’m imagining hummingbirds flitting in and among the blooms. Lovely.


    • I know you really like this plant, too, Beth. I have a little group in my back garden in quite a bit of shade. They bloom, not too much and they’re almost done. The ones in full sun are still going strong.


  2. Tina what magnificent flowers in your wonderful November garden. The Mexican honeysuckle has divine flowers. I love the sweet purple heart flowers. The three rock roses you have make Sleepy Orange very happy, I love it. Blue mistflower is still with its wonderful flowers and the nymph Assaia waiting to eat: it is an incredible sight. Salvia madrensis is divine, pure sun in the shade, although if you don’t trim it in August it ends up doubled by its weight, it doesn’t matter, I love it. Tina I hope you and your husband are safe and sound. Take care. Happy gardening and happy week. Very affectionate greetings from Margarita.


  3. I’ve seen the Purple Heart as a houseplant where I live (New York State) As it happens, one of my co workers is on her way to Austin right now with her daughter and son and law (the daughter and sil are moving there to new jobs) and she promised to take pictures – she knows I love flowers and hopefully I’ll now know some of what she may take pictures of. Love that forsythia sage; totally new plant to me.


    • I hope your daughter enjoys Austin and I hope she’ll send you loads of plant photos! Our summers are hot, our drivers are jerks, but she’ll probably like it, especially if she’s young–Austin has a young vibe, that’s for sure!

      Liked by 1 person

    • I wish you lived nearby, I’d love to share some! If you ever find someone near you who grows it, it transplants like a dream. Just pull up a bit with roots, dig a small hole, keep it watered for a bit, and you’ll have a nice shrub within a couple of years. So, so easy!


  4. I laughed at your comment about Austin drivers. I occasionally look in at the postings by an Austin tweeter whose handle is “EvilMoPac.” He has quite a sense of humor.

    The Forsythia sage is a new one for me. It’s very pretty. I presume it got the common name because of its color rather than the shape of its blooms. The purple heart surprised me, too. I’ve known it (or others of the genus) by other names, but there are clumps of it here and there in our landscaping. Since I’ve found them only near balconies and patios, my theory is that they’ve grown up from trimmings that dropped to the ground from residents’ plants.

    As for purple heart, I know it as a specialty wood used on boats. Freshly cut, it’s grayish, but then it turns a lovely eggplant purple. It’s generally used for wheels or other smaller items, although I’ve seen wooden boats with inlaid designs. Here’s a purple heart and maple cutting board.


    • Even with traffic significantly lighter due to the pandemic, our traffic deaths are up. Sheesh!

      I became acquainted with the Forsythia sage through a couple of gardening friends, one of whom shared some with me. It’s a nice plant in shade/dappled shade–the yellow is both soft and bright, which is a neat trick. I assumed it wouldn’t attract any pollinators, as it’s native to the Sierra Madre Oriental mountains in Mexico, but the Horsefly-like carpenter bees really like it and I’ve seen some of the smaller skippers nectaring, as well.

      I grew up with purple heart and like it very much. Here in Texas, unless you’re willing to baby some exotics (which I’m not!) there are few red-to-purple foliage plants to spark up the garden, but purple heart is one and it’s as tough as can be. In shade or sun, it’s a hardy plant, with some tendencies toward invasiveness. Back in the day, before climate change was noticeable, it would die to the ground every winter. That rarely happens now, though.

      Ooooh, I love that cutting board! Beautiful work!


  5. You certainly weren’t indolent in using the word indolence, which I don’t believe I’ve ever come across in a blog till now. Curiously, indolent originally meant ‘painless.’

    You mentioned that your rock rose is past its normal blooming time; the recent warm weather that has caused other species to flower out of season could well be the reason for the extended blooming of the Pavonia.

    Assassin bug nymphs may move in for the sip; adults move in for the kill.


    • Interesting about the etymology of indolent: I guess I’m fleeing from the pain of heat in August?

      There aren’t too many rock rose blooming, just a few, here and there. Typically, I don’t see any after the end of October, but sometimes there are outliers; this is a year for outliers, I guess.

      I didn’t even see the assasin until I downloaded the photo. It’s funny what you see–or don’t see–when taking photos.


  6. I wish I could send you some rain from up here, Tina. We’re in for a La Niña winter, and I believe it started in earnest this week. Not complaining – we desperately need it too, but it is wet enough to share, out there.


    • Ugh, we’re so dry. I’m gardening for my SIL and her soil is rock-hard!! I’ve re-vamped some areas in my gardens and the soil is better because there are a couple of decades of something other than mono-culture grass, but still, very dry!

      I loved your post today–still can’t comment–but the idea of food prepared from sources of one family of plants (albeit, a big family of plants) is so appealing. I was super hungry when I read about your treat and saw the photo. It would make a nice companion to my morning coffee!


      • Fingers crossed you get some rain soon… In terms of the pastries, they show promise, but next time, I want more crunch. The textures definitely need to be worked on. 🙂


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